Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Vigilance, Courage and Perseverance

Growing up in Beaufort, SC some of my best memories were made on the beach. Mostly they were on Hunting Island. Hunting Island is one of the most aesthetically pleasing places I have ever seen. It's physical beauty, in my opinion, is second to none. The rolling waves coolly compliment the lush green trees that surround the beachhead. 

(Added by Mom: Want to see an amazing video about HUNTING ISLAND created by Tyler's 1st grade teacher's husband, David Lavery?  CLICK HERE: HUNTING ISLAND Video by David Lavery)

As one feels the warm sand between their toes it might be easy to forget that within it's beauty, the beach is full of danger. When you think of the danger that a beach might hold, you will probably think of "Jaws" or a huge sea creature of some sort brushing past your legs in the water, right before it comes up and swallows you whole. However the most dangerous thing at the beach is something much more subtle. It's called a rip current -  better known as a riptide. Rip currents can be killers. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation's beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards. 

 The thing that makes rip currents so dangerous isn't overwhelming brute force or an "all of a sudden" crash. When someone drowns in a rip current usually what happens is something like this - a young swimmer is enjoying themselves in the warm summer water. They see that they tide has pulled them out a little farther..they are a confident swimmer so they continue to enjoy themselves. As they swim around they don't realize that the current is continuing to pull them out farther and farther. Once the swimmer realizes how far they are out they will start to panic and try to swim back to shore. What they don't realize is how strong the current really is. Although you can't see it, the current is more powerful than the toughest swimmer! Normally the current will tire the swimmer so much that due to fatigue he or she will drown. 

Sometimes life can be like the beach. The world is full of beautiful faces and places. However, it is definitely a dangerous place. Sometimes when people lose control of their life, it comes from a huge monumental event. More often than not however - it comes from poisoning in degrees. A little lowering the standards here and a little bending the rules there. As the current takes us out farther and farther we think nothing of it at first. But by the time home is so far away we can barely see it, it can be too late for many of us on our own. The #1 thing we can do to prevent this catastrophe is to be constantly vigilant. One of my favorite stories of Vigilance was a story that John McCain told when he was running for president in 2008. It is called the Mike Christian Story.  - 
Mike Christian
"The Vietnam War . . . 1971, prisoners of war were moved from isolation into large rooms at the Hanoi Hilton. One of those prisoners was Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes until he was thirteen. At seventeen he enlisted in the Navy, later to earn a commission and become a Naval flying officer, and was shot down and captured in 1967.

The uniforms the Americans wore were the Vietnamese pajamas, only they were blue, and rubber sandals made of automobile tires.

Mike contrived a bamboo needle for himself and collecting some cloth of red and white, he sewed an American Flag on the inside of his shirt. And it was the practice of the prisoners that every afternoon before they got their ration of soup, they would hang Mike's shirt on the wall and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, repeating the Pledge of Allegiance may not be the most i
mportant part of the average American day, but for those men in that stark prison cell, it was the most important and meaningful event of their day.

One day, the Vietnamese searched the cell and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, removed it and him, and for the "benefit" of the other prisoners beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple hours. 

Then they opened the door and threw him back inside. Mike was not in good shape and the others tried to comfort and take care of him as best they could.

The cell had a concrete slab on which the men slept and a naked light bulb in each corner of the room. After things had quieted down for the evening, in the corner of the room, sitting beneath that dimly lit bulb with a piece of white cloth, a piece of red cloth, another blue shirt and his bamboo needle, was Mike Christian. His eyes almost swollen shut from the beating, he was fashioning another American flag."

Special Baptism Day
What better example of vigilance can we have than this amazing story of courage and perseverance. Mike knew how important it was for him and his fellow prisoners to have that flag so he continually chose what he knew was right. 

We can learn from Mike's example and be constantly vigilant in our personal struggles every day. Although the battles may be small - a journey  of a thousand miles begins with one simple step. 

- Elder Clancy 
Rugby with my homies on P-Day
Look at the Skyline!
Perfect Message!
Garrett E. and I
1 pound Snickers - WOW!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Charity - The Pure Love of Christ

Every month so far I have been trying to focus on one Christlike attribute that I can work towards. In January it was CHARITY - The Pure Love of Christ. 
Paul tells us in the Bible how important charity is. I think it is even more dire for me considering I am on a mission (Loving and serving others). If I didn't have charity towards the people I was serving, do you think I would be an effective missionary? Much less a happy person? Of course not!! So that is why I decided I wanted to focus on CHARITY this past month. 

On a mission it can be very hard to have charity! Whether it is companionship struggles, people slamming the door in your face or even just being out of your comfort zone, sometimes the idea of being compassionate to everyone you meet seems more like a nice poem than real life. However there are amazing examples of Christlike charity that we are blessed to see almost everyday. 

The world in which we live is a very tumultuous and transient place. It was once said that the sun never sets on the British Empire. Well now it sets at around 7PM! There is constant unrest abroad and at home. The other night we awoke to a crowd of 6-7 women screaming profanities and attacking each other right outside our apartment complex! One might think that is impossible to see charity in the crazy world in which we live. However, I am proven wrong almost every time the words run through my mind.

Charity can be found in the simple forgiveness of a loved one who made a mistake. 
Charity can be found in random acts of kindness. 
Charity is found in turning the other cheek. 

Recently there was an event which shocked not just South Carolina but also the entire nation as a whole. On June 17th, 2015 a deranged young man named Dylann Roof walked into Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, and did the unspeakable. He murdered 9 peaceful, loving children of God who had welcomed him to their Church that night for a Bible Study Class. I think I speak for all as I say we were devastated and heartbroken after hearing of this. Many who knew and worked with these wonderful people struggled to find words to describe their broken hearts. That night before I went to bed I prayed to my Heavenly Father to comfort their loved ones. As tears rolled down my face, I wondered how anyone could keep moving forward after such a tragedy. Well a few weeks later after the murderer was caught, I stood in amazement and awe. The mother of one of the victims, publicly forgave this seemingly soulless man. 

Comparably speaking I can't think of anything that would come close to this act of Charity except in Christ's own life. As he was spat upon and mocked he continued save those very men who despised him. I think that as we continue to work to see the good not only in the world but in others, that our lives will be more fruitful and more enjoyable. I know that as we continue to work towards seeing our fellow men through our Heavenly Father's eyes that we will view the world through a brighter lens. Even though sometimes the silver linings are only visible through the smoke, I know that if we have charity we can continue to make the world a better place. 

Ernest Hemmingway said - "
For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed." 

Well we are all writing the story of our lives. Why not make it a best seller? :-) Have some charity and the world will open up around you.
Transfer Day - The Sisters, Elder Carlson and I in our Lava-lavas 
Love, Elder Clancy
Using our tetris skills to pack the car for the big transfer
to Pueblo
Yes, this is a CASTLE, Mom. Someone actually LIVES here. 
The Elders volunteer at the Pueblo Zoo one day a week.
Here is Elder Johnson trying to kiss a camel ha ha
Me and Elder Gill on Transfer Day

Elder Anderson with the African Porcupine